Problems with Soy
by the article, "Newest Research on Why You Should Avoid Soy")
status as the darling of the vegetarian world, soy is not a health
food. In fact, it's neither healthy nor is it food, if your definition
of that word includes nourishment with no detrimental properties.
And it isn't merely worthless as a food, it's downright harmful.
Hundreds of studies have linked soy proteins and derivatives to:
Cancer, especially of the breast
Allergies and reduced immunity
Thyroid dysfunction (leading to weight gain)
Malnutrition and digestive problems
Nutrient deficiencies, including calcium (important for the prevention
Reproductive disorders, cognitive and mental decline
And these are
just the natural side effects of soy foodstuffs. I
shudder to think of how many other ills we're risking by ingesting
the residues of the acid and alkaline baths, petroleum solvents,
and who knows how many other hazardous chemicals involved in the
manufacture of some of the most common soy variants.
notwithstanding, soy byproducts and proteins have found their way
into just about everything. In fact, it's estimated that 60% of
the refined foods on store shelves and sold in fast-food joints
have some kind of soy protein in them.
And if those
madcaps over at the Food and Drug Administration have it their way,
the amount of soy Americans are consuming will likely double in
the very near future. Why? Because they're about to allow the manufacturers
of every breakfast cereal, veggie burger, energy bar, and milk substitute
with soy protein or byproducts in it to claim that it prevents cancer.
Yep, you read
that right. Despite the findings of stacks of bona-fide research,
the FDA is about to buckle yet again to Big Food (like it did with
that Food Pyramid farce) and let them claim their soy- and sugar-saturated
junk food is the key to dodging cancer.
Absurd as the
notion is, the FDA is about to give a big rubber stamp to refined-food
makers that says "Prevents Cancer" on it. This, despite
the fact that many toxicology texts list the plant estrogens found
in soy protein products as carcinogens. How can this happen, you
ask? As usual, it's all about money. This move will mean billions
in the pockets of American food makers.
William Campbell Douglass II, MD
Did you know...
One of the reasons soy is fed to animals is
because it messes with their thyroids causing hypothyroidism
which causes them to gain weight. This is done because the
more they weigh when sold, the more they fetch in price.
Research on Why You Should Avoid Soy
by Sally Fallon & Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
The propaganda that has created the
soy sales miracle is all the more remarkable because, only a few
decades ago, the soybean was considered unfit to eat even
in Asia. During the Chou Dynasty (1134-246 BC) the soybean was designated
one of the five sacred grains, along with barley, wheat, millet
However, the pictograph for the soybean,
which dates from earlier times, indicates that it was not first
used as a food; for whereas the pictographs for the other four grains
show the seed and stem structure of the plant, the pictograph for
the soybean emphasizes the root structure. Agricultural literature
of the period speaks frequently of the soybean and its use in crop
rotation. Apparently the soy plant was initially used as a method
of fixing nitrogen.13
The soybean did not serve as a food
until the discovery of fermentation techniques, some time during
the Chou Dynasty. The first soy foods were fermented products like
tempeh, natto, miso and soy sauce.
At a later date, possibly in the 2nd
century BC, Chinese scientists discovered that a purée of
cooked soybeans could be precipitated with calcium sulfate or magnesium
sulfate (plaster of Paris or Epsom salts) to make a smooth, pale
curd tofu or bean curd. The use of fermented and precipitated
soy products soon spread to other parts of the Orient, notably Japan
The Chinese did not eat unfermented
soybeans as they did other legumes such as lentils because the soybean
contains large quantities of natural toxins or "antinutrients".
First among them are potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action
of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion.
These inhibitors are large, tightly
folded proteins that are not completely deactivated during ordinary
cooking. They can produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein
digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake. In test
animals, diets high in trypsin inhibitors cause enlargement and
pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.14
Soybeans also contain haemagglutinin,
a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump
Trypsin inhibitors and haemagglutinin
are growth inhibitors. Weanling rats fed soy containing these antinutrients
fail to grow normally. Growth-depressant compounds are deactivated
during the process of fermentation, so once the Chinese discovered
how to ferment the soybean, they began to incorporate soy foods
into their diets.
In precipitated products, enzyme inhibitors
concentrate in the soaking liquid rather than in the curd. Thus,
in tofu and bean curd, growth depressants are reduced in quantity
but not completely eliminated.
also contains goitrogens
substances that depress thyroid function.
Additionally 99% a very large percentage
of soy is genetically modified and it also has one of the highest
percentages contamination by pesticides of any of our foods.
Soybeans are high in phytic acid, present
in the bran or hulls of all seeds. It's a substance that can block
the uptake of essential minerals calcium, magnesium, copper,
iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract.
Although not a household word, phytic
acid has been extensively studied; there are literally hundreds
of articles on the effects of phytic acid in the current scientific
literature. Scientists are in general agreement that grain- and
legume-based diets high in phytates contribute to widespread mineral
deficiencies in third world countries.15
Analysis shows that calcium, magnesium,
iron and zinc are present in the plant foods eaten in these areas,
but the high phytate content of soy- and grain-based diets prevents
The soybean has one of the highest
phytate levels of any grain or legume that has been studied,16
and the phytates in soy are highly resistant to normal phytate-reducing
techniques such as long, slow cooking.17 Only
a long period of fermentation will significantly reduce the phytate
content of soybeans.
When precipitated soy products like
tofu are consumed with meat, the mineral-blocking effects of the
phytates are reduced.18 The Japanese traditionally
eat a small amount of tofu or miso as part of a mineral-rich fish
broth, followed by a serving of meat or fish.
Vegetarians who consume tofu and bean
curd as a substitute for meat and dairy products risk severe mineral
deficiencies. The results of calcium, magnesium and iron deficiency
are well known; those of zinc are less so.
Zinc is called the intelligence mineral
because it is needed for optimal development and functioning of
the brain and nervous system. It plays a role in protein synthesis
and collagen formation; it is involved in the blood-sugar control
mechanism and thus protects against diabetes; it is needed for a
healthy reproductive system.
Zinc is a key component in numerous
vital enzymes and plays a role in the immune system. Phytates found
in soy products interfere with zinc absorption more completely than
with other minerals.19 Zinc deficiency can
cause a "spacey" feeling that some vegetarians may mistake for the
"high" of spiritual enlightenment.
Milk drinking is given as the reason
why second-generation Japanese in America grow taller than their
native ancestors. Some investigators postulate that the reduced
phytate content of the American diet whatever may be its
other deficiencies is the true explanation, pointing out
that both Asian and Western children who do not get enough meat
and fish products to counteract the effects of a high phytate diet,
frequently suffer rickets, stunting and other growth problems.20
Protein Isolate: Not So Friendly
Soy processors have worked hard to
get these antinutrients out of the finished product, particularly
soy protein isolate (SPI) which is the key ingredient in most soy
foods that imitate meat and dairy products, including baby formulas
and some brands of soy milk.
SPI is not something you can make in
your own kitchen. Production takes place in industrial factories
where a slurry of soy beans is first mixed with an alkaline solution
to remove fiber, then precipitated and separated using an acid wash
and, finally, neutralized in an alkaline solution.
Acid washing in aluminum tanks leaches
high levels of aluminum into the final product. The resultant curds
are spray-dried at high temperatures to produce a high-protein powder.
A final indignity to the original soybean is high-temperature, high-pressure
extrusion processing of soy protein isolate to produce textured
vegetable protein (TVP).
Much of the trypsin inhibitor content
can be removed through high-temperature processing, but not all.
Trypsin inhibitor content of soy protein isolate can vary as much
as fivefold.21 (In rats, even low-level trypsin
inhibitor SPI feeding results in reduced weight gain compared to
But high-temperature processing has
the unfortunate side-effect of so denaturing the other proteins
in soy that they are rendered largely ineffective.23
That's why animals on soy feed need lysine supplements for normal
Nitrites, which are potent carcinogens,
are formed during spray-drying, and a toxin called lysinoalanine
is formed during alkaline processing.24 Numerous
artificial flavorings, particularly MSG, are added to soy protein
isolate and textured vegetable protein products to mask their strong
"beany" taste and to impart the flavor of meat.25
In feeding experiments, the use of
SPI increased requirements for vitamins E, K, D and B12 and created
deficiency symptoms of calcium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum,
copper, iron and zinc.26 Phytic acid remaining
in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption;
test animals fed SPI develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas
and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the
Yet soy protein isolate and textured
vegetable protein are used extensively in school lunch programs,
commercial baked goods, diet beverages and fast food products. They
are heavily promoted in third world countries and form the basis
of many food giveaway programs.
In spite of poor results in animal
feeding trials, the soy industry has sponsored a number of studies
designed to show that soy protein products can be used in human
diets as a replacement for traditional foods.
An example is "Nutritional Quality
of Soy Bean Protein Isolates: Studies in Children of Preschool Age",
sponsored by the Ralston Purina Company.28
A group of Central American children suffering from malnutrition
was first stabilized and brought into better health by feeding them
native foods, including meat and dairy products. Then, for a two-week
period, these traditional foods were replaced by a drink made of
soy protein isolate and sugar.
All nitrogen taken in and all nitrogen
excreted was measured in truly Orwellian fashion: the children were
weighed naked every morning, and all excrement and vomit gathered
up for analysis. The researchers found that the children retained
nitrogen and that their growth was "adequate", so the experiment
was declared a success.
Whether the children were actually
healthy on such a diet, or could remain so over a long period, is
another matter. The researchers noted that the children vomited
"occasionally", usually after finishing a meal; that over half suffered
from periods of moderate diarrhea; that some had upper respiratory
infections; and that others suffered from rash and fever.
It should be noted that the researchers
did not dare to use soy products to help the children recover from
malnutrition, and were obliged to supplement the soy-sugar mixture
with nutrients largely absent in soy products notably, vitamins
A, D and B12, iron, iodine and zinc.
The Perfect Food
"Just imagine you could grow the perfect
food. This food not only would provide affordable nutrition, but
also would be delicious and easy to prepare in a variety of ways.
It would be a healthful food, with no saturated fat. In fact, you
would be growing a virtual fountain of youth on your back forty."
The author is Dean Houghton, writing
for The Furrow,2 a magazine published in 12
languages by John Deere. "This ideal food would help prevent, and
perhaps reverse, some of the world's most dreaded diseases. You
could grow this miracle crop in a variety of soils and climates.
Its cultivation would build up, not deplete, the land...this miracle
food already exists...It's called soy."
Just imagine. Farmers have been imagining
and planting more soy. What was once a minor crop, listed
in the 1913 US Department of Agriculture (USDA) handbook not as
a food but as an industrial product, now covers 72 million acres
of American farmland. Much of this harvest will be used to feed
chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows and salmon. Another large fraction
will be squeezed to produce oil for margarine, shortenings and salad
Advances in technology make it possible
to produce isolated soy protein from what was once considered a
waste product the defatted, high-protein soy chips
and then transform something that looks and smells terrible into
products that can be consumed by human beings. Flavorings, preservatives,
sweeteners, emulsifiers and synthetic nutrients have turned soy
protein isolate, the food processors' ugly duckling, into a New
The new fairy-tale food has been marketed
not so much for her beauty but for her virtues. Early on, products
based on soy protein isolate were sold as extenders and meat substitutes
a strategy that failed to produce the requisite consumer
demand. The industry changed its approach.
"The quickest way to gain product acceptability
in the less affluent society," said an industry spokesman, "is to
have the product consumed on its own merit in a more affluent society."3
So soy is now sold to the upscale consumer, not as a cheap, poverty
food but as a miracle substance that will prevent heart disease
and cancer, whisk away hot flushes, build strong bones and keep
us forever young.
The competition meat, milk,
cheese, butter and eggs has been duly demonised by the appropriate
government bodies. Soy serves as meat and milk for a new generation
of virtuous vegetarians.
This is especially when it needs to
be bolstered with "research", but there's plenty of funds available.
All soybean producers pay a mandatory assessment of one-half to
one per cent of the net market price of soybeans. The total
something like US$80 million annually4
supports United Soybean's program to "strengthen the position of
soybeans in the marketplace and maintain and expand domestic and
foreign markets for uses for soybeans and soybean products".
State soybean councils from Maryland,
Nebraska, Delaware, Arkansas, Virginia, North Dakota and Michigan
provide another $2.5 million for "research".5
Private companies like Archer Daniels Midland also contribute their
share. ADM spent $4.7 million for advertising on Meet the Press
and $4.3 million on Face the Nation during the course of a year.6
Public relations firms help convert
research projects into newspaper articles and advertising copy,
and law firms lobby for favorable government regulations. IMF money
funds soy processing plants in foreign countries, and free trade
policies keep soybean abundance flowing to overseas destinations.
The push for more soy has been relentless
and global in its reach. Soy protein is now found in most supermarket
breads. It is being used to transform "the humble tortilla, Mexico's
corn-based staple food, into a protein-fortified 'super-tortilla'
that would give a nutritional boost to the nearly 20 million Mexicans
who live in extreme poverty".7 Advertising
for a new soy-enriched loaf from Allied Bakeries in Britain targets
menopausal women seeking relief from hot flushes. Sales are running
at a quarter of a million loaves per week.8
The soy industry hired Norman Robert
Associates, a public relations firm, to "get more soy products onto
school menus".9 The USDA responded with a
proposal to scrap the 30 per cent limit for soy in school lunches.
The NuMenu program would allow unlimited use of soy in student meals.
With soy added to hamburgers, tacos and lasagna, dieticians can
get the total fat content below 30 per cent of calories, thereby
conforming to government dictates. "With the soy-enhanced food items,
students are receiving better servings of nutrients and less cholesterol
Soy milk has posted the biggest gains,
soaring from $2 million in 1980 to $300 million in the US last year.10
Recent advances in processing have transformed the gray, thin, bitter,
beany-tasting Asian beverage into a product that Western consumers
will accept one that tastes like a milkshake, but without
Processing miracles, good packaging,
massive advertising and a marketing strategy that stresses the products'
possible health benefits account for increasing sales to all age
groups. For example, reports that soy helps prevent prostate cancer
have made soy milk acceptable to middle-aged men. "You don't have
to twist the arm of a 55- to 60-year-old guy to get him to try soy
milk," says Mark Messina. Michael Milken, former junk bond financier,
has helped the industry shed its hippie image with well-publicized
efforts to consume 40 grams of soy protein daily.
America today, tomorrow the world.
Soy milk sales are rising in Canada, even though soy milk there
costs twice as much as cow's milk. Soybean milk processing plants
are sprouting up in places like Kenya.11 Even
China, where soy really is a poverty food and whose people want
more meat, not tofu, has opted to build Western-style soy factories
rather than develop western grasslands for grazing animals.12
Health Claim Challenged
On October 25, 1999 the US Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) decided to allow a health claim for products
"low in saturated fat and cholesterol" that contain 6.25 grams of
soy protein per serving. Breakfast cereals, baked goods, convenience
food, smoothie mixes and meat substitutes could now be sold with
labels touting benefits to cardiovascular health, as long as these
products contained one heaping teaspoon of soy protein per 100-gram
The best marketing strategy for a product
that is inherently unhealthy is, of course, a health claim.
"The road to FDA approval," writes
a soy apologist, "was long and demanding, consisting of a detailed
review of human clinical data collected from more than 40 scientific
studies conducted over the last 20 years. Soy protein was found
to be one of the rare foods that had sufficient scientific evidence
not only to qualify for an FDA health claim proposal but to ultimately
pass the rigorous approval process."29
The "long and demanding" road to FDA
approval actually took a few unexpected turns. The original petition,
submitted by Protein Technology International, requested a health
claim for isoflavones, the estrogen-like compounds found plentifully
in soybeans, based on assertions that "only soy protein that has
been processed in a manner in which isoflavones are retained will
result in cholesterol lowering".
In 1998, the FDA made the unprecedented
move of rewriting PTI's petition, removing any reference to the
phyto-estrogens and substituting a claim for soy protein
a move that was in direct contradiction to the agency's regulations.
The FDA is authorized to make rulings only on substances presented
The abrupt change in direction was
no doubt due to the fact that a number of researchers, including
scientists employed by the US Government, submitted documents indicating
that isoflavones are toxic.
The FDA had also received, early in
1998, the final British Government report on phytoestrogens, which
failed to find much evidence of benefit and warned against potential
Even with the change to soy protein
isolate, FDA bureaucrats engaged in the "rigorous approval process"
were forced to deal nimbly with concerns about mineral blocking
effects, enzyme inhibitors, goitrogenicity, endocrine disruption,
reproductive problems and increased allergic reactions from consumption
of soy products.31
One of the strongest letters of protest
came from Dr Dan Sheehan and Dr Daniel Doerge, government researchers
at the National Center for Toxicological Research.32
Their pleas for warning labels were dismissed as unwarranted.
"Sufficient scientific evidence" of
soy's cholesterol-lowering properties is drawn largely from a 1995
meta-analysis by Dr James Anderson, sponsored by Protein Technologies
International and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.33
A meta-analysis is a review and summary
of the results of many clinical studies on the same subject. Use
of meta-analyses to draw general conclusions has come under sharp
criticism by members of the scientific community.
"Researchers substituting meta-analysis
for more rigorous trials risk making faulty assumptions and indulging
in creative accounting," says Sir John Scott, President of the Royal
Society of New Zealand. "Like is not being lumped with like. Little
lumps and big lumps of data are being gathered together by various
There is the added temptation for researchers,
particularly researchers funded by a company like Protein Technologies
International, to leave out studies that would prevent the desired
conclusions. Dr Anderson discarded eight studies for various reasons,
leaving a remainder of twenty-nine.
The published report suggested that
individuals with cholesterol levels over 250 mg/dl would experience
a "significant" reduction of 7 to 20 per cent in levels of serum
cholesterol if they substituted soy protein for animal protein.
Cholesterol reduction was insignificant for individuals whose cholesterol
was lower than 250 mg/dl.
In other words, for most of us, giving
up steak and eating vegieburgers instead will not bring down blood
cholesterol levels. The health claim that the FDA approved "after
detailed review of human clinical data" fails to inform the consumer
about these important details.
Research that ties soy to positive
effects on cholesterol levels is "incredibly immature", said Ronald
M. Krauss, MD, head of the Molecular Medical Research Program and
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.35 He
might have added that studies in which cholesterol levels were lowered
through either diet or drugs have consistently resulted in a greater
number of deaths in the treatment groups than in controls
deaths from stroke, cancer, intestinal disorders, accident and suicide.36
Cholesterol-lowering measures in the
US have fuelled a $60 billion per year cholesterol-lowering industry,
but have not saved us from the ravages of heart disease.
The new FDA ruling does not allow any
claims about cancer prevention on food packages, but that has not
restrained the industry and its marketers from making them in their
"In addition to protecting the heart,"
says a vitamin company brochure, "soy has demonstrated powerful
anticancer benefits...the Japanese, who eat 30 times as much soy
as North Americans, have a lower incidence of cancers of the breast,
uterus and prostate."37
Indeed they do. But the Japanese, and
Asians in general, have much higher rates of other types of cancer,
particularly cancer of the esophagus, stomach, pancreas and liver.38
Asians throughout the world also have high rates of thyroid cancer.39
The logic that links low rates of reproductive cancers to soy consumption
requires attribution of high rates of thyroid and digestive cancers
to the same foods, particularly as soy causes these types of cancers
in laboratory rats.
Just how much soy do Asians eat? A
1998 survey found that the average daily amount of soy protein consumed
in Japan was about eight grams for men and seven for women
less than two teaspoons.40 The famous Cornell
China Study, conducted by Colin T. Campbell, found that legume consumption
in China varied from 0 to 58 grams per day, with a mean of about
Assuming that two-thirds of legume
consumption is soy, then the maximum consumption is about 40 grams,
or less than three tablespoons per day, with an average consumption
of about nine grams, or less than two teaspoons. A survey conducted
in the 1930s found that soy foods accounted for only 1.5 per cent
of calories in the Chinese diet, compared with 65 per cent of calories
from pork.42 (Asians traditionally cooked
with lard, not vegetable oil!)
Traditionally fermented soy products
make a delicious, natural seasoning that may supply important nutritional
factors in the Asian diet. But except in times of famine, Asians
consume soy products only in small amounts, as condiments, and not
as a replacement for animal foods with one exception. Celibate
monks living in monasteries and leading a vegetarian lifestyle find
soy foods quite helpful because they dampen libido.
It was a 1994 meta-analysis by Mark
Messina, published in Nutrition and Cancer, that fuelled speculation
on soy's anticarcinogenic properties.43 Messina
noted that in 26 animal studies, 65 per cent reported protective
effects from soy. He conveniently neglected to include at least
one study in which soy feeding caused pancreatic cancer the
1985 study by Rackis.44 In the human studies
he listed, the results were mixed.
A few showed some protective effect,
but most showed no correlation at all between soy consumption and
cancer rates. He concluded that "the data in this review cannot
be used as a basis for claiming that soy intake decreases cancer
risk". Yet in his subsequent book, The Simple Soybean and Your Health,
Messina makes just such a claim, recommending one cup or 230 grams
of soy products per day in his "optimal" diet as a way to prevent
Thousands of women are now consuming
soy in the belief that it protects them against breast cancer. Yet,
in 1996, researchers found that women consuming soy protein isolate
had an increased incidence of epithelial hyperplasia, a condition
that presages malignancies.45 A year later,
dietary genistein was found to stimulate breast cells to enter the
cell cycle a discovery that led the study authors to conclude
that women should not consume soy products to prevent breast cancer.46
Panacea or Poison?
The male species of tropical birds
carries the drab plumage of the female at birth and 'colors up'
at maturity, somewhere between nine and 24 months.
In 1991, Richard and Valerie James,
bird breeders in Whangerai, New Zealand, purchased a new kind of
feed for their birds one based largely on soy protein.47
When soy-based feed was used, their birds 'colored up' after just
a few months. In fact, one bird-food manufacturer claimed that this
early development was an advantage imparted by the feed.
A 1992 ad for Roudybush feed formula
showed a picture of the male crimson rosella, an Australian parrot
that acquires beautiful red plumage at 18 to 24 months, already
brightly colored at 11 weeks old.
Unfortunately, in the ensuing years,
there was decreased fertility in the birds, with precocious maturation,
deformed, stunted and stillborn babies, and premature deaths, especially
among females, with the result that the total population in the
aviaries went into steady decline.
The birds suffered beak and bone deformities,
goiter, immune system disorders and pathological, aggressive behavior.
Autopsy revealed digestive organs in a state of disintegration.
The list of problems corresponded with many of the problems the
Jameses had encountered in their two children, who had been fed
soy-based infant formula.
Startled, aghast, and angry, the Jameses
hired toxicologist Mike Fitzpatrick. PhD, to investigate further.
Dr Fitzpatrick's literature review uncovered evidence that soy consumption
has been linked to numerous disorders, including infertility, increased
cancer and infantile leukemia; and, in studies dating back to the
1950s,48 that genistein in soy causes endocrine
disruption in animals.
Dr Fitzpatrick also analyzed the bird
feed and found that it contained high levels of phytoestrogens,
especially genistein. When the Jameses discontinued using soy-based
feed, the flock gradually returned to normal breeding habits and
The Jameses embarked on a private crusade
to warn the public and government officials about toxins in soy
foods, particularly the endocrine-disrupting isoflavones, genistein
and diadzen. Protein Technology International received their material
In 1991, Japanese researchers reported
that consumption of as little as 30 grams or two tablespoons of
soybeans per day for only one month resulted in a significant increase
in thyroid-stimulating hormone.49 Diffuse
goiter and hypothyroidism appeared in some of the subjects and many
complained of constipation, fatigue and lethargy, even though their
intake of iodine was adequate.
In 1997, researchers from the FDA's
National Center for Toxicological Research made the embarrassing
discovery that the goitrogenic components of soy were the very same
Twenty-five grams of soy protein isolate,
the minimum amount PTI claimed to have cholesterol-lowering effects,
contains from 50 to 70 mg of isoflavones. It took only 45 mg of
isoflavones in premenopausal women to exert significant biological
effects, including a reduction in hormones needed for adequate thyroid
function. These effects lingered for three months after soy consumption
One hundred grams of soy protein
the maximum suggested cholesterol-lowering dose, and the amount
recommended by Protein Technologies International can contain
almost 600 mg of isoflavones,52 an amount
that is undeniably toxic. In 1992, the Swiss health service estimated
that 100 grams of soy protein provided the estrogenic equivalent
of the Pill.53
In vitro studies suggest that isoflavones
inhibit synthesis of estradiol and other steroid hormones.54
Reproductive problems, infertility, thyroid disease and liver disease
due to dietary intake of isoflavones have been observed for several
species of animals including mice, cheetah, quail, pigs, rats, sturgeon
It is the isoflavones in soy that are
said to have a favorable effect on postmenopausal symptoms, including
hot flushes, and protection from osteoporosis. Quantification of
discomfort from hot flushes is extremely subjective, and most studies
show that control subjects report reduction in discomfort in amounts
equal to subjects given soy.56 The claim that
soy prevents osteoporosis is extraordinary, given that soy foods
block calcium and cause vitamin D deficiencies.
If Asians indeed have lower rates of
osteoporosis than Westerners, it is because their diet provides
plenty of vitamin D from shrimp, lard and seafood, and plenty of
calcium from bone broths. The reason that Westerners have such high
rates of osteoporosis is because they have substituted soy oil for
butter, which is a traditional source of vitamin D and other fat-soluble
activators needed for calcium absorption.
Control Pills For Babies
But it was the isoflavones in infant
formula that gave the Jameses the most cause for concern. In 1998,
investigators reported that the daily exposure of infants to isoflavones
in soy infant formula is 6 to11 times higher on a body-weight basis
than the dose that has hormonal effects in adults consuming soy
foods. Circulating concentrations of isoflavones in infants fed
soy-based formula were 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than plasma
estradiol concentrations in infants on cow's milk formula.57
Approximately 25 per cent of bottle-fed
children in the US receive soy-based formula a much higher
percentage than in other parts of the Western world. Fitzpatrick
estimated that an infant exclusively fed soy formula receives the
estrogenic equivalent (based on body weight) of at least five birth
control pills per day.58 By contrast, almost
no phytoestrogens have been detected in dairy-based infant formula
or in human milk, even when the mother consumes soy products.
Scientists have known for years that
soy-based formula can cause thyroid problems in babies. But what
are the effects of soy products on the hormonal development of the
infant, both male and female?
Male infants undergo a "testosterone
surge" during the first few months of life, when testosterone levels
may be as high as those of an adult male. During this period, the
infant is programmed to express male characteristics after puberty,
not only in the development of his sexual organs and other masculine
physical traits, but also in setting patterns in the brain characteristic
of male behavior.
In monkeys, deficiency of male hormones
impairs the development of spatial perception (which, in humans,
is normally more acute in men than in women), of learning ability
and of visual discrimination tasks (such as would be required for
reading).59 It goes without saying that future
patterns of sexual orientation may also be influenced by the early
Male children exposed during gestation
to diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen that has effects
on animals similar to those of phytoestrogens from soy, had testes
smaller than normal on manturation.60
Learning disabilities, especially in
male children, have reached epidemic proportions. Soy infant feeding
which began in earnest in the early 1970s cannot be
ignored as a probable cause for these tragic developments.
As for girls, an alarming number are
entering puberty much earlier than normal, according to a recent
study reported in the journal Pediatrics.61
Investigators found that one per cent of all girls now show signs
of puberty, such as breast development or pubic hair, before the
age of three; by age eight, 14.7 per cent of white girls and almost
50 per cent of African-American girls have one or both of these
New data indicate that environmental
estrogens such as PCBs and DDE (a breakdown product of DDT) may
cause early sexual development in girls.62
In the 1986 Puerto Rico Premature Thelarche study, the most significant
dietary association with premature sexual development was not chicken
as reported in the press but soy infant formula.63
The consequences of this truncated
childhood are tragic. Young girls with mature bodies must cope with
feelings and urges that most children are not well-equipped to handle.
And early maturation in girls is frequently a harbinger for problems
with the reproductive system later in life, including failure to
menstruate, infertility and breast cancer.
Parents who have contacted the Jameses
recount other problems associated with children of both sexes who
were fed soy-based formula, including extreme emotional behavior,
asthma, immune system problems, pituitary insufficiency, thyroid
disorders and irritable bowel syndrome the same endocrine
and digestive havoc that afflicted the Jameses' parrots.
In The Ranks
Organizers of the Third International
Soy Symposium would be hard-pressed to call the conference an unqualified
success. On the second day of the symposium, the London-based Food
Commission and the Weston A. Price Foundation of Washington, DC,
held a joint press conference, in the same hotel as the symposium,
to present concerns about soy infant formula.
Industry representatives sat stony-faced
through the recitation of potential dangers and a plea from concerned
scientists and parents to pull soy-based infant formula from the
market. Under pressure from the Jameses, the New Zealand Government
had issued a health warning about soy infant formula in 1998; it
was time for the American government to do the same.
On the last day of the symposium, presentations
on new findings related to toxicity sent a well-oxygenated chill
through the giddy helium hype. Dr Lon White reported on a study
of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii, that showed a significant
statistical relationship between two or more servings of tofu a
week and "accelerated brain aging".64
Those participants who consumed tofu
in mid-life had lower cognitive function in late life and a greater
incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. "What's more," said
Dr White, "those who ate a lot of tofu, by the time they were 75
or 80 looked five years older".65 White and
his colleagues blamed the negative effects on isoflavones
a finding that supports an earlier study in which postmenopausal
women with higher levels of circulating estrogen experienced greater
Scientists Daniel Sheehan and Daniel
Doerge, from the National Center for Toxicological Research, ruined
PTI's day by presenting findings from rat feeding studies, indicating
that genistein in soy foods causes irreversible damage to enzymes
that synthesise thyroid hormones.67
"The association between soybean consumption
and goiter in animals and humans has a long history," wrote Dr Doerge.
"Current evidence for the beneficial effects of soy requires a full
understanding of potential adverse effects as well."
Dr Claude Hughes reported that rats
born to mothers that were fed genistein had decreased birth weights
compared to controls, and onset of puberty occurred earlier in male
offspring.68 His research suggested that the
effects observed in rats "...will be at least somewhat predictive
of what occurs in humans.
There is no reason to assume that there
will be gross malformations of fetuses but there may be subtle changes,
such as neurobehavioral attributes, immune function and sex hormone
levels." The results, he said, "could be nothing or could be something
of great concern...if mom is eating something that can act like
sex hormones, it is logical to wonder if that could change the baby's
A study of babies born to vegetarian
mothers, published in January 2000, indicated just what those changes
in baby's development might be. Mothers who ate a vegetarian diet
during pregnancy had a fivefold greater risk of delivering a boy
with hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis.70
The authors of the study suggested that the cause was greater exposure
to phytoestrogens in soy foods popular with vegetarians.
Problems with female offspring of vegetarian
mothers are more likely to show up later in life. While soy's estrogenic
effect is less than that of diethylstilbestrol (DES), the dose is
likely to be higher because it's consumed as a food, not taken as
a drug. Daughters of women who took DES during pregnancy suffered
from infertility and cancer when they reached their twenties.
Marks Over GRAS Status
Lurking in the background of industry
hype for soy is the nagging question of whether it's even legal
to add soy protein isolate to food. All food additives not in common
use prior to 1958, including casein protein from milk, must have
GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. In 1972, the Nixon administration
directed a re-examination of substances believed to be GRAS, in
the light of any scientific information then available.
This re-examination included casein
protein that became codified as GRAS in 1978. In 1974, the FDA obtained
a literature review of soy protein because, as soy protein had not
been used in food until 1959 and was not even in common use in the
early 1970s, it was not eligible to have its GRAS status grandfathered
under the provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.71
The scientific literature up to 1974
recognized many antinutrients in factory-made soy protein, including
trypsin inhibitors, phytic acid and genistein. But the FDA literature
review dismissed discussion of adverse impacts, with the statement
that it was important for "adequate processing" to remove them.
Genistein could be removed with an
alcohol wash, but it was an expensive procedure that processors
avoided. Later studies determined that trypsin inhibitor content
could be removed only with long periods of heat and pressure, but
the FDA has imposed no requirements for manufacturers to do so.
The FDA was more concerned with toxins
formed during processing, specifically nitrites and lysinoalanine.72
Even at low levels of consumption averaging one-third of
a gram per day at the time the presence of these carcinogens
was considered too great a threat to public health to allow GRAS
Soy protein did have approval for use
as a binder in cardboard boxes, and this approval was allowed to
continue, as researchers considered that migration of nitrites from
the box into the food contents would be too small to constitute
a cancer risk. FDA officials called for safety specifications and
monitoring procedures before granting of GRAS status for food.
These were never performed. To this
day, use of soy protein is codified as GRAS only for this limited
industrial use as a cardboard binder. This means that soy protein
must be subject to premarket approval procedures each time manufacturers
intend to use it as a food or add it to a food.
Soy protein was introduced into infant
formula in the early 1960s. It was a new product with no history
of any use at all. As soy protein did not have GRAS status, premarket
approval was required. This was not and still has not been granted.
The key ingredient of soy infant formula is not recognized as safe.
"Against the backdrop of widespread
praise...there is growing suspicion that soy despite its
undisputed benefits may pose some health hazards," writes
Marian Burros, a leading food writer for the New York Times. More
than any other writer, Ms Burros's endorsement of a low-fat, largely
vegetarian diet has herded Americans into supermarket aisles featuring
Yet her January 26, 2000 article, "Doubts
Cloud Rosy News on Soy", contains the following alarming statement:
"Not one of the 18 scientists interviewed for this column was willing
to say that taking isoflavones was risk free." Ms Burros did not
enumerate the risks, nor did she mention that the recommended 25
daily grams of soy protein contain enough isoflavones to cause problems
in sensitive individuals, but it was evident that the industry had
recognized the need to cover itself.
Because the industry is extremely exposed...contingency
lawyers will soon discover that the number of potential plaintiffs
can be counted in the millions and the pockets are very, very deep.
Juries will hear something like the following: "The industry has
known for years that soy contains many toxins.
At first they told the public that
the toxins were removed by processing. When it became apparent that
processing could not get rid of them, they claimed that these substances
were beneficial. Your government granted a health claim to a substance
that is poisonous, and the industry lied to the public to sell more
The "industry" includes merchants,
manufacturers, scientists, publicists, bureaucrats, former bond
financiers, food writers, vitamin companies and retail stores. Farmers
will probably escape because they were duped like the rest of us.
But they need to find something else to grow before the soy bubble
bursts and the market collapses: grass-fed livestock, designer vegetables...or
hemp to make paper for thousands and thousands of legal briefs.
from Nexus Magazine, Volume 7, Number 3 (April-May 2000)
Another (much shorter) article
on the soy issue... a must read, because it deals with cancer and
the unscrupulous soy industry.
And another eye-opening article:
Not only Destroys Forests and Small Farmers
it can also be Bad for your Health"
A Note from Health101.org about this Article:
many health educators, this article contains examples of educators
who have some spot-on, accurate info, but also teach some incorrect
info. For example, Health101.org does not endorse the Weston A.
Price organization because in my opinion they have the same issue;
some accurate and some inaccurate info about the diet all humans
are best suited to eat (they
promote a high animal fat diet).
Hailed it as a Wonderfood
to list of Articles
1. Program for the Third International
Symposium on the Role of Soy in Preventing and Treating Chronic
Disease, Sunday, October 31, through Wednesday, November 3, 1999,
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC.
2. Houghton, Dean, "Healthful
Harvest", The Furrow, January 2000, pp. 10-13.
3. Coleman, Richard J., "Vegetable
Protein - A Delayed Birth?" Journal of the American Oil Chemists'
Society 52:238A, April 1975.
4. See www/unitedsoybean.org.
5. These are listed in www.soyonlineservice.co.nz.
6. Wall Street Journal, October
7. Smith, James F., "Healthier
tortillas could lead to healthier Mexico", Denver Post, August 22,
1999, p. 26A.
8. "Bakery says new loaf can
help reduce hot flushes", Reuters, September 15, 1997.
9. "Beefing Up Burgers with Soy
Products at School", Nutrition Week, Community Nutrition Institute,
Washington, DC, June 5, 1998, p. 2.
10. Urquhart, John, "A Health
Food Hits Big Time", Wall Street Journal, August 3, 1999, p. B1
11. "Soyabean Milk Plant in Kenya",
Africa News Service, September 1998.
12. Simoons, Frederick J., Food
in China: A Cultural and Historical Inquiry, CRC Press, Boca Raton,
1991, p. 64.
13. Katz, Solomon H., "Food and
Biocultural Evolution: A Model for the Investigation of Modern Nutritional
Problems", Nutritional Anthropology, Alan R. Liss Inc., 1987, p.
14. Rackis, Joseph J. et al.,
"The USDA trypsin inhibitor study. I. Background, objectives and
procedural details", Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition,
vol. 35, 1985.
15. Van Rensburg et al., "Nutritional
status of African populations predisposed to esophageal cancer",
Nutrition and Cancer, vol. 4, 1983, pp. 206-216; Moser, P.B. et
al., "Copper, iron, zinc and selenium dietary intake and status
of Nepalese lactating women and their breastfed infants", American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition 47:729-734, April 1988; Harland, B.F.
et al., "Nutritional status and phytate: zinc and phytate X calcium:
zinc dietary molar ratios of lacto-ovovegetarian Trappist monks:
10 years later", Journal of the American Dietetic Association 88:1562-1566,
16. El Tiney, A.H., "Proximate
Composition and Mineral and Phytate Contents of Legumes Grown in
Sudan", Journal of Food Composition and Analysis (1989) 2:6778.
17. Ologhobo, A.D. et al., "Distribution
of phosphorus and phytate in some Nigerian varieties of legumes
and some effects of processing", Journal of Food Science 49(1):199-201,
18. Sandstrom, B. et al., "Effect
of protein level and protein source on zinc absorption in humans",
Journal of Nutrition 119(1):48-53, January 1989; Tait, Susan et
al., "The availability of minerals in food, with particular reference
to iron", Journal of Research in Society and Health 103(2):74-77,
19. Phytate reduction of zinc
absorption has been demonstrated in numerous studies. These results
are summarised in Leviton, Richard, Tofu, Tempeh, Miso and Other
Soyfoods: The 'Food of the Future' - How to Enjoy Its Spectacular
Health Benefits, Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT, USA, 1982,
20. Mellanby, Edward, "Experimental
rickets: The effect of cereals and their interaction with other
factors of diet and environment in producing rickets", Journal of
the Medical Research Council 93:265, March 1925; Wills, M.R. et
al., "Phytic Acid and Nutritional Rickets in Immigrants", The Lancet,
April 8,1972, pp. 771-773.
21. Rackis et al., ibid.
22. Rackis et al., ibid., p.
23. Wallace, G.M., "Studies on
the Processing and Properties of Soymilk", Journal of Science and
Food Agriculture 22:526-535, October 1971.
24. Rackis, et al., ibid., p.
22; "Evaluation of the Health Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as
Food Ingredients", prepared for FDA by Life Sciences Research Office,
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (9650
Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014), USA, Contract No. FDA 223-75-2004,
25. See www/truthinlabeling.org.
26. Rackis, Joseph, J., "Biological
and Physiological Factors in Soybeans", Journal of the American
Oil Chemists' Society 51:161A-170A, January 1974.
27. Rackis, Joseph J. et al.,
"The USDA trypsin inhibitor study", ibid.
28. Torum, Benjamin, "Nutritional
Quality of Soybean Protein Isolates: Studies in Children of Preschool
Age", in Soy Protein and Human Nutrition, Harold L Wilcke et al.
(eds), Academic Press, New York, 1979.
29. Zreik, Marwin, CCN, "The
Great Soy Protein Awakening", Total Health 32(1), February 2000.
30. IEH Assessment on Phytoestrogens
in the Human Diet, Final Report to the Ministry of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Food, UK, November 1997, p. 11.
31. Food Labeling: Health Claims:
Soy Protein and Coronary Heart Disease, Food and Drug Administration
21 CFR, Part 101 (Docket No. 98P-0683).
32. Sheegan, Daniel M. and Daniel
R Doerge, Letter to Dockets Management Branch (HFA-305), February
33. Anderson, James W. et al.,
"Meta-analysis of the Effects of Soy Protein Intake on Serum Lipids",
New England Journal of Medicine (1995) 333:(5):276-282.
34. Guy, Camille, "Doctors warned
against magic, quackery", New Zealand Herald, September 9, 1995,
section 8, p. 5.
35. Sander, Kate and Hilary Wilson,
"FDA approves new health claim for soy, but litte fallout expected
for dairy", Cheese Market News, October 22, 1999, p. 24.
36. Enig, Mary G. and Sally Fallon,
"The Oiling of America", NEXUS Magazine, December 1998-January 1999
and February-March 1999; also available at www.WestonAPrice.org.
37. Natural Medicine News (L
& H Vitamins, 32-33 47th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101),
USA, January/February 2000, p. 8.
38. Harras, Angela (ed.), Cancer
Rates and Risks, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer
Institute, 1996, 4th edition.
39. Searle, Charles E. (ed.),
Chemical Carcinogens, ACS Monograph 173, American Chemical Society,
Washington, DC, 1976.
40. Nagata, C. et al., Journal
of Nutrition (1998) 128:209-213.
41. Campbell, Colin T. et al.,
The Cornell Project in China.
42. Chang, K.C. (ed.), Food in
Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, New
43. Messina, Mark J. et al.,
"Soy Intake and Cancer Risk: A Review of the In Vitro and In Vivo
Data", Nutrition and Cancer (1994) 21(2):113-131.
44. Rackis et al, "The USDA trypsin
inhibitor study", ibid.
45. Petrakis, N.L. et al., "Stimulatory
influence of soy protein isolate on breast secretion in pre- and
post-menopausal women", Cancer Epid. Bio. Prev. (1996) 5:785-794.
46. Dees, C. et al., "Dietary
estrogens stimulate human breast cells to enter the cell cycle",
Environmental Health Perspectives (1997) 105(Suppl. 3):633-636.
47. Woodhams, D.J., "Phytoestrogens
and parrots: The anatomy of an investigation", Proceedings of the
Nutrition Society of New Zealand (1995) 20:22-30.
48. Matrone, G. et al., "Effect
of Genistin on Growth and Development of the Male Mouse", Journal
of Nutrition (1956) 235-240.
49. Ishizuki, Y. et al., "The
effects on the thyroid gland of soybeans administered experimentally
in healthy subjects", Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi (1991) 767:622-629.
50. Divi, R.L. et al., "Anti-thyroid
isoflavones from the soybean", Biochemical Pharmacology (1997) 54:1087-1096.
51. Cassidy, A. et al., "Biological
Effects of a Diet of Soy Protein Rich in Isoflavones on the Menstrual
Cycle of Premenopausal Women", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
52. Murphy, P.A., "Phytoestrogen
Content of Processed Soybean Foods", Food Technology, January 1982,
53. Bulletin de L'Office Fédéral
de la Santé Publique, no. 28, July 20, 1992.
54. Keung, W.M., "Dietary oestrogenic
isoflavones are potent inhibitors of B-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase
of P. testosteronii", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Committee
(1995) 215:1137-1144; Makela, S.I. et al., "Estrogen-specific 12
B-hydroxysteroid oxidoreductase type 1 (E.C. 188.8.131.52) as a possible
target for the action of phytoestrogens", PSEBM (1995) 208:51-59.
55. Setchell, K.D.R. et al.,
"Dietary oestrogens - a probable cause of infertility and liver
disease in captive cheetahs", Gastroenterology (1987) 93:225-233;
Leopald, A.S., "Phytoestrogens: Adverse effects on reproduction
in California Quail," Science (1976) 191:98-100; Drane, H.M. et
al., "Oestrogenic activity of soya-bean products", Food, Cosmetics
and Technology (1980) 18:425-427; Kimura, S. et al., "Development
of malignant goiter by defatted soybean with iodine-free diet in
rats", Gann. (1976) 67:763-765; Pelissero, C. et al., "Oestrogenic
effect of dietary soybean meal on vitellogenesis in cultured Siberian
Sturgeon Acipenser baeri", Gen. Comp. End. (1991) 83:447-457; Braden
et al., "The oestrogenic activity and metabolism of certain isoflavones
in sheep", Australian J. Agricultural Research (1967) 18:335-348.
56. Ginsburg, Jean and Giordana
M. Prelevic, "Is there a proven place for phytoestrogens in the
menopause?", Climacteric (1999) 2:75-78.
57. Setchell, K.D. et al., "Isoflavone
content of infant formulas and the metabolic fate of these early
phytoestrogens in early life", American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
December 1998 Supplement, 1453S-1461S.
58. Irvine, C. et al., "The Potential
Adverse Effects of Soybean Phytoestrogens in Infant Feeding", New
Zealand Medical Journal May 24, 1995, p. 318.
59. Hagger, C. and J. Bachevalier,
"Visual habit formation in 3-month-old monkeys (Macaca mulatta):
reversal of sex difference following neonatal manipulations of androgen",
Behavior and Brain Research (1991) 45:57-63.
60. Ross, R.K. et al., "Effect
of in-utero exposure to diethylstilbestrol on age at onset of puberty
and on post-pubertal hormone levels in boys", Canadian Medical Association
Journal 128(10):1197-8, May 15, 1983.
61. Herman-Giddens, Marcia E.
et al., "Secondary Sexual Characteristics and Menses in Young Girls
Seen in Office Practice: A Study from the Pediatric Research in
Office Settings Network", Pediatrics 99(4):505-512, April 1997.
62. Rachel's Environment &
Health Weekly 263, "The Wingspread Statement", Part 1, December
11, 1991; Colborn, Theo, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers,
Our Stolen Future, Little, Brown & Company, London, 1996.
63. Freni-Titulaer, L.W., "Premature
Thelarch in Puerto Rico: A search for environmental factors", American
Journal of Diseases of Children 140(12):1263-1267, December 1986.
64. White, Lon, "Association
of High Midlife Tofu Consumption with Accelerated Brain Aging",
Plenary Session #8: Cognitive Function, The Third International
Soy Symposium, November 1999, Program, p. 26.
65. Altonn, Helen, "Too much
tofu induces 'brain aging', study shows", Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
November 19, 1999.
66. Journal of the American Geriatric
Society (1998) 46:816-21.
67. Doerge, Daniel R., "Inactivation
of Thyroid Peroxidase by Genistein and Daidzein in Vitro and in
Vivo; Mechanism for Anti-Thyroid Activity of Soy", presented at
the November 1999 Soy Symposium in Washington, DC, National Center
for Toxicological Research, Jefferson, AR 72029, USA.
68. Hughes, Claude, Center for
Women's Health and Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Cedars-Sinai
Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.
69. Soy Intake May Affect Fetus",
Reuters News Service, November 5, 1999.
70. "Vegetarian diet in pregnancy
linked to birth defect", BJU International 85:107-113, January 2000.
71. FDA ref 72/104, Report FDABF
GRAS - 258.
72. "Evaluation of the Health
Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as Food Ingredients", prepared for
FDA by Life Sciences Research Office, Federation of American Societies
for Experimental Biology (FASEB) (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda,
MD 20014, USA), Contract No, FDA 223-75-2004, 1979.